Multigernerational versus Intergenerational Churches

Spiral of Hands from Flickr via Wylio

2008 lostintheredwoods, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

Here is an article that introduces some discussion about Multigenerational Churches versus Intergenerational Communities.

Here are a few of my highlights:

  • In a MULTIgenerational church, the generations can show up on the same day and in the same place, can all be in the attendance rolls and partner files, but not be interrelated or interconnected in life or experience.
  • An imbalance between the generations can lead to problems like…
    • Older generations have the money and resources to keep the lights on, so their preferences, advice, and past experiences hold more weight in the direction of the church.
    • Younger generations are “the future,” so massive shifts in worship, style, look, and structure of the church are risked to head towards that future.

Here are some additional resources concerning building an Intergenerational Community.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Is your faith community – Intergenerational or Multigenerational?
  2. Does your leadership reflect the diversity of the body of Christ by generations?
  3. What is the first step for your community for moving towards a intergenerational church?


Could young adults impact their denomination? Is it Possible?

I hope that the answer is yes.  I understand that the leadership boards of almost every single denomination in America is filled with babyboomers who have “earned their stripes” and “understand the real world.”  I understand the challenges that young men and women face before being heard in the church. (Read more – here.)

If we want to change the Millennial Exodus, then we need to address the problem at every level.

  • There is a need to minister to the individual needs of emerging adults.
  • There is a need to provide resources and training to church leadership to reach and minister to emerging adults.
  • There is a need for denominations to lead the way through allowing young adults to speak up and speak out.

Here is a story of one group who is seeking to bring transformation to their denomination.

I recently interviewed Mark Hilbelink, who leads a group of people who have named themselves YALT – which stands for Young Adult Leadership Taskforce.  YALT serves within the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America.  The YALT team originally formed under the Leadership Development Department of the denomination, but now has become its own entity.

Image result for Mark Hilbelink

Mark Hilbelink

The leadership of YALT are not paid by denomination, but the denomination provides paid staff support for the movement.  The team is composed by various pastors and bloggers who want to influence the denomination (For example – Hilbelink pastors a church in Texas).

When the team originally formed, they planned events and conferences, but found that this was an expensive, and ineffective way to impact their denomination.  More recently, YALT has focused on their on-line presence.  You can find their Facebook profile and a website.

As for their impact within the denomination, Mark states that he believes that YALT seeks to get people on board with the mission to reach young adults, and through influencing denominational events.

Mark is often asked why Millennials are leaving the church, but Mark believes (like myself), that there is not a singular reason why Millennials are leaving.  He believes that their lack of attachment to the local church is due to their life phase.  Millennials are transient which makes it difficult to connect with community.  He believes that what overall truly attracts Millennials is not a hip church, but one that is healthy.

Mark shares that sometimes church leadership “uses us [the YALT team] to keep Millennials, but not to bring change to our church.”  Marks believes that while the church may not need to change its doctrine or practices, change is needed in order to stay relevant in today’s world.

If you have an interest in launching a group to influence your denomination, EA Resources can help.  Contact us at

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing director of EA Resources.  He is also the founder of the EA Network, a Network that seeks to equip the parents and churches to meet the needs of emerging adults.

Survey Guide for Church Leadership (prior to launchin a ministry for Emerging Adults)

Getting everyone on the same page is important before launching a ministry for emerging adults.  If you are responsible for launching a ministry to emerging adults, you must know how the effectiveness of the ministry will be measured.

Getting everyone in leadership on the same page is important before launching a ministry for emerging adults.  If you are responsible for launching a ministry to EA’s, you musts know how the effectiveness of your ministry will be measured.

These question are designed to start discussions among your leadership team around the topic of ministering to emerging adults.  I would have the leadership team first answer the questions, and then discuss questions as a team.  Edit the questions as needed – certain questions may be more important to one community than  to others.

1.        What resources do we currently allocate to emerging adults?

2.       Who in our congregation is currently affected by emerging adults?

3.       How do you see emerging adults taking a role in our community?

4.       Name specific ways in which you are supportive of emerging adults.

5.       How do you feel that the leadership team is supportive of emerging adults?

6.       What do you believe to be the greatest needs of today’s emerging adults?

7.       How can you envision our community meeting the needs of emerging adults?

8.       What do you think emerging adults believe about our church?

9.       What service and leadership opportunities are open to emerging adults?

10.   How could we promote to emerging adults that they are wanted, respected, and loved?

11.   How can we better utilize the emerging adults in our community?

12.   What barriers do emerging adults face when they attend our church?

Please check out my additional resources:

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip parents and church to minister to emerging adults.  If Dr. Boyd can help your community, please contact him at


What Kind of Leaders are Millennials?

closeup of a young man with the word yolo, for you only live once, tattooed in his hand, with a filter effect

The title of this article immediately irritates me – any piece of writing or study that claims to state how an entire generation leads is going to be filled with assumptions, stereotypes, and generic statements that don’t mean much.  (I am also not sure how their picture connects with the article?)

However, here are a few points that all church leaders should ponder:

You can check out the complete article here.

  • “Millennials want to be leaders. Ninety-one percent of millennials aspire to be leaders, according to The Millennial Leadership Study.”  Could this be why some are leaving the church?
  • “Interestingly, of the 91 percent seeking leadership responsibilities, more than half are women. More women in leadership roles could impact or even break up the “good ol’ boys” network and pay inequality, criticized by so many today.”
  • “Millennials realize they lack experience and skills, and the study reports that 53 percent are eager to learn from mentors.”  What does this look like with Millennials?
  • “Millennials may be misunderstood. But as the largest generation in the workforce, they have a significant influence. It’s only a matter of time before they begin redefining leadership and other workplace trends.”

Millennials who lead come in all shapes and sizes.  While their styles will be shaped by the values of their generation (like authenticity), defining their leadership style (like any other generation) is impossible.




The Power of Generational Mediators

A “mediator” serves as a conduit, or channel, between two parties in conflict, seeking to ensure that both feel understood, respected, and able to contribute towards an agreeable solution.

As a pastor, I have served as a mediator numerous times – negotiating house rules, establishing consensus over new policies in the church, or seeking healing in a relationship.

© 2010 Eric Danley, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Within the church, disagreements can erupt between different generations due to disparate values, beliefs, and practices. I have stood up in defense of Millennials amidst a boardroom of angry Baby boomers, and I have defused frustration among disillusioned Millennials in hallway conversations.

As churches seek to become more intergenerational in their programming, conflict will inevitably arise. Does your community have people who are equipped to serve as intermediaries between the generations? Mediators of generational conflict can restore peace and unity in three ways.

1.    Mediators understand.

Effective mediators are “swift to hear, slow to speak.” (James 1:19) They ask great questions and are motivated to understand another’s perspective. They want to know the “what,” but will keep digging until they also discover the “whys.” Before bringing together conflicting parties, mediators will seek to understand each group’s desires, values, and practices.

2.     Mediators translate.

During times of conflict, fear and anger can limit or completely block reasonable communication. Mediators are able to remove these obstacles and promote effective communication. By knowing those involved, they will choose words and expressions designed to calm emotions and facilitated mutual understanding between the parties. Fruitful mediation takes time, and all sides must remain patient through the process, believing the results will be worth the effort.

3.    Mediators build bridges.

In the midst of discord, we tend to focus on our differences and perceive our opposition as villains. Dehumanizing others relieves our own sense of guilt, allowing us to justify hurtful words, thoughts, and actions. Mediators remind each side of their common ground, and build bridges towards mutual respect, understanding, and love. As human beings, we can always find some common ground in personal fears, dreams, and emotions. Within the church, mediators lead us to our common ground in Jesus and His call upon our lives.

If your community seeks to become intergenerational, who has God provided as potential mediators?  Seek out and train individuals who are able to value varied perspectives, who can communicate with patience, and who know how to build bridges upon common faith and love.  Well-trained mediators are essential to maintaining a healthy, united community.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  This article first appeared on, where David is a regular contributor.

Church, Make Room for Young Leaders

Church, Make Room for Young LeadersEarlier this week, I wrote about the 5 “Disastrous” Results of Inviting Emerging Adults into Leadership.  I came across an article this week that I wanted to share with you concerning making room for Emerging Adults within the leadership structure of the church.

Here are a few points that I would like to make:

Stephens City United Methodist Church from Flickr via Wylio

© 2013 NCinDC, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

1.  If you do not “make room” for young leaders, then they will not feel welcome
.  Through the years, most young adults know that when it comes to church leadership that the “Young Need NOT Apply.”  We must be proactive in making room into our leadership structures and inviting them to join us.

2.  We must fight ageism within the Church.  In the author’s words, “Don’t expect the worst of fellow believers, regardless of their age. Let the gospel go to work on your subtle age-prejudice.”  People from all generations must stop bashing others, and seek to build bridges.

3.  Good leadership knows how to release power to others.  Unfortunately, the power of leadership is drawing, and causes many to clutch it for too long (I am hearing the words of Gollum – My Precious).  Larry Osborne has a great quote,

The seniors never graduate (at least not until they’ve become literal seniors and start dying off). They hog the leadership table, shutting out the next generation. It’s one of the main reasons that most churches stop growing and lose their evangelistic touch (and cultural relevance) around the twenty-year mark.

Enjoy the article by David Mathis the executive editor at  



Five “Disastrous” Results of Inviting Emerging Adults into Leadership.

Although some people believe that mixing generations in leadership can cause the same results as mixing Mentos and carbonated drinks, I believe in young leadership.  I actually believe that the church needs Millennials in order to be healthy.  That doesn’t mean change will be easy.  Here are some results to expect as you invite emerging adults into leadership.

1.  Questions will be asked.

tommy_portrait_blackwhite_690882_h[1]As you invite emerging adults into leadership, be ready to answer questions.  Asking questions is key to a healthy community, while authority that stifles questions and criticism is quickly headed towards disaster.  God-ordained leadership can face questions without feeling threatened.  Hierarchy is so often ingrained into our communities, that we learn to not question authority or the systems that elected them.  As we invite emerging adults to speak, they will need to ask questions to provide understanding, and at other times to evaluate decisions.

2.  Elephants will be acknowledged.

Elephant's tea party, Robur Tea Room, 24 March 1939, by Sam Hood from Flickr via Wylio

© 1939 State Library of New South Wales, Flickr | PD | via Wylio

Many organizations have an elephant (or two) in the room that no one is willing to talk about.  Young leadership will gladly point them out – either because they don’t understand them, or because they can see how unhealthy these huge burdens have become for the group.  Unfortunately, most of these elephants have protectors in the room.  When established leadership chooses to ignore problems within our communities (because they are too painful), emerging adults will want to revisit them.

3.  Reality Checks will be given.

We all need a dose of reality from time to time.  Emerging adults are often idealistic, and do not realize how difficult it can be to bring change to individuals and an organization.  In spite of their idealism, other generations can learn from those who understand how our world is changing, and how the church sits on the precipice of irrelevancy.  A healthy spoonful of reality is needed by both sides.  Inter-generational leadership is a medicine that will grow and strengthen the church.

4.  Assumptions will be challenged.

Whether due to being raised in a postmodern society, a digital world, or because they want to see change, EA’s will challenge assumptions –  no matter how old.  A community’s leadership is often blinded to their own assumptions.  A new leader will see what is being assumed by the leadership structure, and how these old assumptions are obstacles to growth and healthy change.

5.  Growth we result.

As you place emerging adults on your team, their leadership skills will improve.  However, growth should not be associated simply with youth.  Diversity creates a dynamic working environment that will cause everyone involved to grow.  This growth process is characterized by moments of pain and pleasure.

Inviting younger leadership to the table would require something from everyone. 

It is risky. 

It requires humility. 

It requires work. 

It requires courage. 

Maybe these are the reasons why Emerging Adults get shut out.

In the end, we will discover that the results of working with emerging adults are not disastrous at all.  Rather, we will discover that they are exactly what the Church needs.

david in hat - blackDr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources.  If he can help your church create avenues to minister to emerging adults, you can contact him at

10 Ways Millennials Are Creating the Future of Work (and the Church)

pew and hymnalI recently read this article by Dan Schwabel.  He is the founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management consulting firm.  Dan’s research and predictions about the Millennials are changing the workplace can also be applied to the church.  Using his predictions, here are some ways that Millennials will change the church in the future.

  1.  Millennials will force churches to be transparent. Authenticity is a high value for Millennials.  There is a need for honesty in all activities.  If a church asks for money, then describe the needs.  If someone leaves the staff or community, then tell them the reasons why.  Attempts to cover-up the truth display inauthenticity, and will cause Millennials to flee.
  2. Millennials will choose meaningful work above everything else. Allow Millennials to do meaningful work.  They don’t want to be relegated to tasks because they are young.   Find out what they love to do, and remove the roadblocks.  Don’t make them fit into your pre-planned program.  Listen to who they are before you ask them to volunteer.
  3. Millennials will build a collaborative church. I think that this has ramifications for how a church does small groups.  Some groups connect better through collaboration, and sharing a common project.  Churches need to move beyond small groups simply doing “Bible Study.”
  4. Millennials will make worshipping from home the norm.  Millennials will continue to attend church, but they will also want to watch on-line when they are not available.  Many millennials have jobs that force them to work weekends; therefore a church that wants to appeal to this demographic must have a variety of attendance options, including on-line services.
  5. Millennials will recruit based on results over degrees.  They have been told since they entered education that they had to have a degree.  They have seen the positive and negatives of education, and realize that often education is just a useless gate that keeps capable people from work and leadership.  Millennials will look beyond the degree.
  6. Millennials will change the meaning of “face-time”.  Virtual church was once mocked by the Christian community as being unrealistic, and not real church.  Innovations in technology have made it a reality.  Although I believe in the importance of human-interaction,  technology is changing how this is accomplished.
  7. Millennials will encourage generosity and community support.  A church that wants to engage EA’s will go to the community rather than ask the community to come to them.  Emerging adults are very generous when it comes to the greater community.  They are not usually interested in supporting a larger church staff or programming.
  8. Millennials will eliminate the annual performance review.   Churches don’t do annual reviews,  but Millennials want their voice to be heard in the direction of the church.  A church will attract EA’s when they ask them questions and respond to their answers.  
  9. Millennials will turn work into a game instead of a chore.  The Gaming Industry is huge.  Instead of mocking gamers as immature men and women, a church should engage gamers by building community around them.  The church has embraced men’s sports activities for years, so why do churches frown upon one leisure activity, and yet spend money on the other?
  10. Millennials will level corporate hierarchies.  Already many churches are dropping the title “Senior” Pastor, and instead turning to “Lead” Pastor.  However, the changes have yet to begin.  Hierarchies will disappear within the church (especially those dominated by rich, male babyboomers).   This will only be done by conscious deliberate action.  

I welcome the changes – as part of God’s refining process to the Bride of Christ, and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

Recruiting Emerging Adults for Church Leadership.

This article is written in cooperation with Jeff Marian, Lead Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.  Jeff has a clear passion to involve Emerging Adults at all levels of church leadership.  Jeff does not believe that age should be obstacle for leadership within the church.  Although not EAs, his church currently has two leaders (at the highest level) who are in their 30’s, and they are actively looking for more.

Why did you start recruiting EA’s to lead at your church?

HandsOur church needed transition because our church community was aging.  Mark 2:22 says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost.  New wine calls for new wineskins.”  Our church was in need of new wineskins in order to bring change to our community.

Our church needed to reach EA’s, and didn’t know how.   In order to reach different people, we needed to make some changes.  When we tried to reach EA’s without their input, it felt as if the church was an airplane in the fog without instrumentation.  We saw things only from our limited perspective of those in the room.  EA’s are the eyes, ears, and the heart of the future.  Without them, we were flying blind.  As a church, we decided to stop making assumptions about EAs, and start asking them directly.

How did you see it profit EA’s?

Young leaders lack life experience, but that should not disqualify them from leadership.  Leadership gives them this experience.  Placing them into leadership has exposed them to the wisdom of those who are older.  It has forced the emerging adult’s ideal world to meet the real world.  When their passion and idealism collides with reality, maturation occurs.

Do you see any dangers in having young leadership?

There is always danger in the extremes.  Good church leadership requires a balance of voices, and not just one age group.  Younger leaders are willing to make and lead change.  Those in the second half of their spirituality are able to discern the baby from the bathwater.  A balance of the two helps us protect the church, and keep it healthy and relevant (Jeff referenced the book Falling Upward by Richard Rohr.).

How did you see it profit your community?

EA’s becomes advocates for their generation.  Many times, I don’t understand the issues they are facing.  I am warped as a baby-boomer, and we need them to see the world how they see it.  When I am an advocate for EA’s, it doesn’t carry the same weight as when they speak for themselves.  People in the congregation look at them and see someone who reminds them of their child, or their grandchild.     This invokes a sense of responsibility and hop in older adults to lead well for the future.  When EA’s stand up to lead, they are a living symbol of the future.

EA’s have a passion for Kingdom Work, and their passion spreads.  They want to be involved outside the walls of the church.  Placing them in leadership gives them the visibility to make their passion truly contagious to the entire body of Christ.

EA’s have the influence over the other young leaders.  Not because they force peers to do something, but because of the power of community.

EA’s have grown up knowing that America is not Christendom.  Many in our church still don’t understand that, but they are slowly teaching us how to be a light in a diverse society.

 What obstacles did you face?

Older people want EA’s to speak up and have a voice.  Obstacles only appear when they are given equal or more weight and value than those who are paying the bills.  It is difficult for any generation to look beyond what feeds my generation, and to look ahead to the next.

 How do you go about the process of recruiting EA’s?

Our leadership knew that there was capable young leadership in the congregation.  We just had to identify and recruit them.  Once we identified some leaders, we started personally recruiting them.  This week, I had lunch with an EA, and asked him to step up into leadership.  His father had been in leadership for many years in our community, and I challenged him to follow in his father’s footsteps.  I am praying that he will join our team.

We specifically targeted those under 35 for our church council.  Many EA’s feel as if leadership opportunities are not available to them (link to “Young Need Not Apply”), and we wanted to make a statement that age would not be a factor in leadership selection.  We communicated this vision through printed and spoken word.

As the senior leader, I have to take the chance to ask them  – one on one.  I want them to hear me say, “You are the future.  I want to validate your leadership.  I need you to step into that gap.  How can I work together with you?”

What do you look for in an EA leader? 

While age might not be a requirement, there are other requirements.  All individuals go through the same process to enter into church leadership.  Our community’s requirements include:  serving and leading somewhere else in the body, active engagement maturation, volunteer time, and money to the community, and the respect of their peers.

I believe Jeff has two essential skills that enables him to recruit EAs into leadership – a passionate vision for intergenerational leadership, and the ability to voice that need across the table.

Although I am no longer an emerging adult, I was energized by Jeff’s vision of intergenerational leadership.  I would also readily admit that following this interview, that if there was a day when he sat down across the table from me and asked me to join his team, I would probably say yes.


Jeff Marian is the Senior Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.  He is married to Nancy, and together are parenting three emerging adults.


Young Need Not Apply.

businessmanAs a youth pastor for 12 years, I participated in many closed-door meetings (with men mostly 15 or more years older than me).  During these meetings, I was expected to speak for millennials (who are 15 years younger than me).  It is a difficult spot to be in – I would say an impossible spot.  How am I supposed to speak for a new generation?  Don’t get me wrong.  I have studied the research.  I spend time with EAs (emerging adults).  I have a pretty good understanding of who they are (even though that is really not possible).  I could speak for them, but why?

Are there not EAs who can speak for themselves?

Are there not EAs who understand their world better than me?

Are there not EAs who know how to reach their peers better than me?

Are there not EAs who would jump at the opportunity to share their voice?

Are there not EAs leaving established churches because of obstacles that keep them from what God created them to do?

So I ask again,

Are there not EA’s who can speak for themselves?

Why is it that so many churches rely on others to speak for EAs, instead of having them in the room?  There is a very real, but unwritten requirement for leading within many churches – AGE.  You have to be old.  I have worked with many churches where the 40-year-old is considered the “youngster” on the team.

This is a problem.

girl-woman-hair-1276336-l[1]Many EA’s I interviewed who grew up at my church were convinced that as young adults, they were not capable of leading people who were older.  I asked them why they believed this (because they didn’t learn it from me).  Many had little reasoning other than younger people didn’t know enough, or that those who were older wouldn’t listen.

Is age a requirement for leading in the church?  Did God ever use the young to lead?  Does God require that you be a certain age before you are able to speak out?  Is wisdom age-dependent?

Where did the practice of restricting younger adults from leadership begin?  It didn’t start with Jesus.

If age limitations are assumed within your leadership structure, then it you should state it.  Put a sign out that says, “Young Need not Apply.”  I mean it.  If you state it, you should be able to defend it.  If you can’t defend it, then why believe it.  If you don’t believe it, then stop upholding it.

Welcoming EAs into leadership will take work because many EAs feel as if…

Young Need Not Apply.